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Upper Valley Joint Vocational School.

Eight years ago the HVACR program at the Upper Valley Joint Vocational School in Piqua, Ohio, had only 12 students and was in danger of being closed. Today it has 37 students, is attracting national attention and is preparing to break ground on a new facility.

The instructor who has taken the program from near death to flourishing is Scott Naill. Naill, however, refuses to take credit for this remarkable turnaround.

"The success has come from the students, the employers and the administration," he says modestly. "I just guide things."

That guidance led to a designation by the National Dissemination Center for Career and Technical Education as one of the promising programs for 2001. In bestowing this recognition, the National Dissemination Center noted the Upper Valley JVS program's role in preparing students for high-demand technical positions within the field and said, "In response to the need to set higher academic and technical standards, the program has been changed from an appliance repair class to a modern, state-of-the-art residential and commercial training facility, setting higher academic and technical standards."

The recognition helped the program to improve even further, because Naill says they were then able to put together a grant emphasizing academics and career tech. They formed an advisory committee to get ideas for preparing students for the Ohio Proficiency Test and investigated software used to enhance skills. A recruitment video about the program was professionally produced and is used to help educate parents, students and high school counselors about career paths after graduation from the HVACR program.

A PATH TO SUCCESS

Upper Valley JVS draws students from 14 associate high school districts in Miami and Shelby counties, so it is important that parents and counselors understand that a career and technical education program such as the HVACR program is not an educational dead end followed by a low-paying job. Instead it is quite the opposite. There are articulation agreements in place with Sinclair Community College in Dayton and the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima, as well as apprenticeship programs that can lead to scholarships.

Industry support has been another critical element in the success of the Upper Valley JVS HVACR program. Copeland Corporation, Trane, Carrier and Bryant are among the businesses that have provided money, time and resources to Upper Valley JVS.

Copeland Corporation, a division of Emerson, is the world's leading compressor manufacturer and has a plant in nearby Sidney, Ohio. The company does training all across the United States, and as a result of Naill's efforts in developing the HVACR program, Copeland now flies people in from around the country to train and to work with his students. Another facet of the relationship with Copeland involves employment of student apprentices from the Upper Valley JVS program. Annually, four students are recruited during their junior year to work with Copeland.

"It's like a football draft program," says Naill. "They want to recruit the best students."

The student apprentices work for 40 hours a week during the summer--getting valuable hands-on training in Copeland's Product Evaluation Laboratory--then during senior year they work two weeks on and two weeks off. They apply to the University of Northwestern Ohio and are provided a $5,400 scholarship. The students work part time while going to school, and after graduation from Northwestern, they are offered a full-time position with the company.

Through this arrangement, the company gets a well-educated and highly skilled employee--and all of the students are able to clearly see the goal toward which they are working.

Naill explains, "It provides a student who has struggled in high school with something to work toward: If you meet this criteria, you'll have a good future."

The program itself is founded on the mission of providing the highest quality training and an expectation that it will meet or exceed both industry and school standards.

The four primary goals of the Upper Valley JVS HVACR program are:

* To meet or exceed the standards defined by Ohio's Secondary Workforce Development Performance Report.

* To achieve a high level of skill competency by obtaining national and state program accreditations from groups such as the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

* To integrate technical information and theory with the academics of algebra, science, social studies and English.

* To utilize the results from quality initiatives such as Total Quality Management (TQM) and Baldrige in Education standards to provide support and feedback for program improvements and to advance student and program developments.

ACHIEVING EXCELLENCE

Upper Valley JVS is the recipient of the 2003 Level 1--Pledge Toward Excellence--Award from the Ohio Award for Excellence (OAE), and the HVACR program reflects the commitment that the school has demonstrated. Naill rates students' competency and technical knowledge using various quality improvement tools and feedback from employers as they evaluate the performance of the students hired. His students are expected to achieve high performance on the Ohio Career and Technical Competency Assessment (OCTCA)--and they have done so.

The program was the first in the state of Ohio--and among the first in the U.S.--to be NCCER accredited. Naill was on the committee that helped NCCER put together a national standardized test, and he finds the NCCER test works well at the high school level, but he also sees the value of PAHRA and NATE testing. He describes NCCER's as a good entry-level exam for students exiting JVS. PAHRA has some secondary components but tests at a higher level. For graduates who have been working in the field for a while, NATE tests may be more appropriate.

The Upper Valley JVS students are doing more than just learning technical skills and passing tests, however; they are learning the communication skills they will need in dealing with both employers and the public. These skills are displayed at the annual advisory committee and employer recognition banquet. Naill says the students "are eager to meet people at the door and talk to them," and enjoy making presentations during the event.

For the past seven years, the owner of Dayton Trane has financially sponsored the event. The reason this business owner is happy to provide such sponsorship explains Naill is, "He sees the good things about the program ... how the students act and how they present themselves in a professional way."

This industry support pays off in other ways as well. When a levy or bond issue comes up for vote, the school gets the employers involved. Naill says, "They write letters to the editors of newspapers informing them of the good things accomplished by the students, they have donated money to support the levy campaign, and they have spoken at local Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs."

The support from industry and the school administration, coupled with a dedicated instructor and a commitment to excellence all contribute to the success of the Upper Valley JVS HVACR program. And that success continues to grow. This year Tony Trapp became the full-time lab assistant, and in the spring, they will be breaking ground for a building addition that will contain a new lab. This new HVACR lab will incorporate several new pieces of equipment, state-of-the-art DDC (direct digital controls) system and a high-tech classroom to enhance the students' learning.

Cool Careers! Hot Jobs!

In response to the estimated need for an additional 20,000 or more technicians and installers each year to work in the HVACR field, a coalition of organizations representing the industry launched a website called Cool Careers - Hot Jobs.

The site is intended to explain the benefits of an HVACR career to students, parents, educators and counselors, and it includes resources, testimonials and articles.

For more information, visit www.coolcareers.org.

The Council of Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Educators

The idea for establishing the Council of Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Engineers (CARE) came out of the 1997 ARI Instructor Workshop, with CARE being formed at the workshop the following year.

The organization is dedicated to "advancing the education of all industry practitioners by adopting and/or creating standards for secondary and postsecondary educational training facilities."

Its mission is to "address the needs of the industry practitioner with technical educational opportunities to acquire and maintain marketable skills and competency necessary to compete successfully in a constantly changing, technologically advancing market."

For more information, visit www.carehvacr.org.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Association for Career and Technical Education
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Techniques
Date:Feb 1, 2004
Words:1388
Previous Article:HVACR: a field where the job climate is good.
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